Setting the Stage for Spring

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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


IOWA CITY, IOWA — Even though the winter weather can get cold, training does not stop for the University of Iowa women’s rowing team.

With the help of the amenities the P. Sue Beckwith, M.D Boathouse offers, it is always training season for the Hawkeye rowing team.

“The boathouse is somewhat unique in the country, especially at the collegiate level,” said Iowa head coach Andrew Carter. “Not only is it on campus, but it has indoor moving-water rowing tanks in the facility. That is incredibly rare.

“When the weather is such that we don’t want to or can’t row outside, we have a terrific alternative beyond our ergometer training. We can work more on refining our technical points using the tanks.”

The tanks add a different dimension to winter training and they provide a huge advantage to the rowing team.

“The tanks are something that a very few teams have in some form, but even fewer are at the same level as our powered tanks,” said Carter.

“Teams that don’t have that resource available to them have their training limited to rowing machines, cross training, and weight training.

“While a lot of that is good and forms the core of our training, it does have its limitations on the technical advancement that can be pursued during this phase of preparations. You can’t work on blade work on an ergometer, but you can in our tank facility. It’s a big check mark in our column.”

While the tanks add that different dimension, it is not the same as being on the river. The tanks do not provide the same dynamic environment as being in a boat, such as managing the instability of the shell or feeling the direct connection to the other members of the crew. The team combats this by traveling to scrimmages prior to the season.

“Scrimmaging enables us to get extra time on the water and get a sneak peek at how our speed is evolving in the early stages of the spring semester,” said Carter. “It also puts our students in an opposed situation, which contributes to our psychological preparation.”

Scrimmages allow the team to race on the water in close quarters with other crews. This is an important step in training because the rowers need to become accustomed to the sights, sounds, and feelings of being next to their competition.

“As they prepare to race, they’re preparing physically, technically, and psychologically,” said Carter. “We can prepare them physically on the ergometer, we can prepare them technically when we go in the tanks, and when we get an opportunity to be in the boat and be in an opposed environment against other crews, that helps them with the final step of preparing psychologically.”

The spring races are different from races in the fall. In the fall, crews race single-file and the winners are determined by time. In the spring, the team races side-by-side with the opponents.

“In the spring, when you race right beside the other crews, you can feel them and hear them,” said Carter. “Scrimmages are a great opportunity to take the edge off and remind them what it’s all about.  It sets the stage for the spring.” 

The Hawkeyes opened 2018 with a pair of scrimmages against Old Dominion and SMU on Feb. 8 and Feb. 11. The spring season begins at the Pac 12 Invitational on March 31.